Beware of Notary Publics

Sometime ago I wanted to open an account with a Singapore stock broker. If you want to trade SGX shares then it is better to open a trading account in Singapore compared with trading through a Malaysian stock broker. It will be slightly to much cheaper trading this way.

I then proceeded to get the forms from a Singapore stock broker which happened to be Kim Eng Securities Pte Ltd. When you call the Kim Eng helpline they will probably get your local address and offer to send you the forms by mail. To open the account faster you can ask them to email you the forms.

Filling out the forms is the easy part. After that you will have to confirm your identity and the fact that it is you who signed the application form(s) to their satisfaction. To this end in their instructions to you, they will suggest that you get the forms attested and witnessed by either one of the following.
A Lawyer, Commissioner of Oaths, A Notary Public or the Singapore Embassy. Well, in Malaysia, only one of the four parties mentioned by Kim Eng Securities will be able to attest and witness your forms and that is the Notary Public. I personally tried all the other three and found out that both the lawyer and the commissioner of oaths do not have the authority to attest signatures on forms which are used by entities located outside Malaysia. A lawyer can certify a document as a true copy but not attest to signatures on foreign forms. A Commissioner of Oaths on the other hand is not allowed to even sign off documents as certified true copies much less attest to signatures. The Singapore Embassy wiil not attest signatures on forms other than those relating to statutory bodies in Singapore. Singapore private organizations will not have their documents attested by the Singapore Embassy in Malaysia. So that leaves us with only the Notary Public.

Now, another tip is, When you give documents to a Notary public to be notarized, avoid giving documents other than the specific form which is designated to be signed by the Notary Public, that is, give him only the one with the word Notary Public below the space where he/she has to sign to notarize the document. If you provide any other related signed forms then your charges will increase exponentially. A simple small round paper seal stuck on your form will be charged even for pages with mere explanatory notes related to the application. In my case my total cost came up to $235/- which left me flabbergasted. So much to pay just to open a trading account which by the way is f.o.c. in Malaysia. It appears that personally going to Singapore by bus or train would have been slightly cheaper and it can also double as a holiday trip.
So this is how a common lawyer recoups the time, effort and cost of getting the right to notarize documents.